Adams' passion for food began at her family's dinner table. Her
mother relied on traditional New England staples during the holidays,
such as standing rib roast with Yorkshire pudding at Christmas
and baked salmon with peas on the Fourth of July. But, for other
special celebrations her mother would make soufflés, curries,
gnocchi or a favorite dish from Elizabeth David, like Daube
of Beef with Oil-Cured Olives. When Jody's father took the
entire family to England for a sabbatical year, Mrs. Adams made
a point of locating and visiting local markets for new and unusual
ingredients. "If she came across a batch of fresh, wild mushrooms,
then that's what we'd have for dinner," recalls Jody.
Jody inherited her mother's fondness for cooking, but it wasn't
until she was a college student at Brown University that her interest
in food took a professional turn. "I had a part-time job with
Nancy Verde Barr, a professional food writer and teacher. After
a while, I learned I was much happier in Nancy's kitchen learning
French and Italian cooking techniques than I was in anthropology
class." Jody became Nancy's apprentice and, eventually, her class
assistant. She also helped Nancy test the recipes for her book
on Italian immigrant cooking, We
Called It Macaroni (Knopf, 1991).
Jody's culinary career in Boston began in 1983 at Seasons restaurant
under Chef Lydia Shire. Three years later, at Hamersley's Bistro,
she became Gordon Hamersley's Sous Chef. She moved to Michela's
in 1990, and was executive chef there until 1994. While at Michela's,
Jody reputation grew for her carefully researched regional menus
that combined New England ingredients with Italian culinary traditions.
"I have an enormous amount of respect for local cooking traditions.
Regional cuisine has had time on its side - it's taken centuries
to figure out how to make the best of what's available nearby.
Technique, on its own, doesn't count for much. A new technique
or personal interpretation only becomes part of the tradition
when it enhances the taste of the dish's ingredients." In September
1994, Adams opened Rialto with restaurateur and partners Michela
Larson and Karen Haskell. The new restaurant allowed Jody the
freedom to expand her culinary expertise. Four months after the
new restaurant's opening, the Boston Globe awarded Rialto four
stars, the newspaper's highest rating, proclaiming that, "eating
Jody Adams' food at the stunning new Rialto is like stepping into
a winter greenhouse just at the moment a spectacular hothouse
orchid bursts into bloom, filling the senses"
Jody opened her latest venture, blu, in November of 2001 with
Larson, Haskell and Gary Sullivan - all partners in The Sapphire
Restaurant Group. Located in The Sports Club/LA in downtown Boston,
blu is set 100 feet in the air, looks down on a brilliant urban
street scene and up to a beautiful expanse of Boston sky. The
restaurant serves sophisticated American classics based on traditional
In addition to opening another restaurant, Adams recently published
her first cookbook, titled In the Hands of a Chef: Cooking with
Jody Adams of Rialto Restaurant (HarperCollinsPublishers; January
2002). She co-wrote the book with her husband, Ken Rivard. It
is a collection of recipes that she describes as "artisanal home
food," which follows her passions and palate as she cooks for
family and friends.
Of her success, Jody says, "If you're going to work in the restaurant
business, you have to love it. The stress is high, the hours are
long and the pay is nominal. The reward is in the culture. It's
full of interesting, creative people who excel in the art of performance
and making people happy. I can't imagine doing anything else."
As of January 1, 2007 Jody became the sole owner of Rialto. With the persistent and tantalizing memory of a plate of spaghetti with clams, Jody decided to return to her first passion, Italian food. The tagline, “Eat like an Italian,” sums up the goal for the newly re-invented restaurant. Jody’s new Rialto embraces Italian style and life—a simple, beautiful, fun, and sensuous experience.
Outside of the kitchen, Jody is actively involved in organizations that support hunger relief and children’s issues, such as Share Our Strength, Partners in Health, the Greater Boston Food Bank, the Brookline Public Schools and Community Servings.
Jody Adams resides in Somerville, Massachusetts with her husband
Ken Rivard and their two children, Oliver and Roxanne.
Press Highlights & Awards
- March 2003 - Received nomination for best Chefs & Restaurants
cookbook from the IACP for her cookbook In the Hands of a
- May 2000 - Nation's Restaurant News inducts Jody Adams into its "Fine Dining Hall of Fame".
- The August, 1997 issue of Boston Magazine named Jody Adams "Best Chef" in its annual "Best of Boston" issue.
- May 1997 - Jody Adams wins "The Perrier-Jouet Best Chef Award: Northeast" at the 7th Annual James Beard Foundation award ceremony.
- The September, 1996 issue of Bon Appetit named Rialto one of the top 25 hotel restaurants in the country.
- In the May, 1995 issue of Gourmet, food writer Richard Sax called Jody a "dream come true" in his article "Chefs Across America."
- The November, 1992 issue of Esquire listed Jody as one of "America's best young chefs to keep your eye on."
- In June of 1993, Food and Wine magazine named her "one of America's ten best new chefs."
- In September 1992, Restaurant Hospitality named Jody one of five "Rising Stars - a young and exceptional chef whom we believe will be a force, a star if you will, for years to come."